Employment Laws in Pennsylvania

Employment law violations occur almost daily in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, such incidents go unreported in most cases simply because the victims do not know their rights. For this reason, understanding Pennsylvania employment laws is a great start in the pursuit of justice. 

Pennsylvania employment laws fall into different categories. Here's an overview of some important employment laws in PA you need to know.

Fair Employment Practices

Pennsylvania law prohibits employers with four or more employees from discriminating against their employees based on their race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, disability, age, sex, and education status. 

They cannot discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, medical conditions deriving from childbirth, and academic status. The Pennsylvania Human Relation Act (PHRA) also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee opposing discriminatory activities at the workplace or an employee who has made a charge, testified, or assisted in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing held under the PHRA. 

Access to Employee Records and Files

In Pennsylvania, employers cannot prevent their employees from accessing certain records and files at reasonable times upon request. Under the Inspect of Employment Records Law, employees can inspect personnel files used to establish the employee's qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination, disciplinary action, and other related information. 

Equal Pay

The Pennsylvania Equal Pay Law states that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on sex in the pay rate for jobs that require equal skill, responsibility, and effort performed under similar working conditions.

For example, paying a woman less to operate a forklift and paying a man more while working under the same conditions as the woman qualifies as wage discrimination. 

Additionally, employment laws in Pennsylvania are quite clear regarding minimum wage, overtime, and child labor. 

What Is the Minimum Wage in Pennsylvania?

As of 2021, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour. This is the same as the federal minimum wage. 

What Are the Overtime Laws in Pennsylvania?

When employees work more than 40 hours a week in Pennsylvania, they are entitled to overtime pay. The overtime payment should be at the rate of one and one-half times the regular rate for all hours worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. 

Employment laws in PA also require employers to pay their employees on a workweek basis. This rule applies even if the employee is paid on an hourly, piece rate, monthly salary, or any other basis. 

What Are Some Child Labor Laws in Pennsylvania?

All minors under 18 years cannot work in hazardous occupations. Examples of such occupations include:

  • pilots;
  • firemen;
  • certain railway positions;
  • manufacture of paints, chemicals, and dyes;
  • establishments that produce, sell, or distribute alcoholic beverages;

Additionally, minors cannot work more than six consecutive days unless in newspaper delivery. 

Minors aged between 16 and 17 can work up to:

  • eight hours a day when in school is in session, including summer school;
  • 10 hours a day during school vacation;
  • 8 hours during regular school week, including semester school;
  • 48 hours a week during a school vacation period. 

State laws also permit minors between 16 and 17 to work anytime between 6 am and 12 am when school is in session, including summer school. They may also work from 6 am to 1 am during school vacation periods. 

On the other hand, minors aged 14 and 15 may work up to:

  • three hours on a school day;
  • eight hours on a non-school day;
  • 18 hours during a regular school week, including summer school;
  • 40 hours a week during a school vacation period.

In addition, state laws permit minors in this age group (14 to 15 years) to work between 7 am to 7 pm when school is in session, including summer school. They may also work from 7 am to 9 pm during school vacation. 

But that's not all; minors in Pennsylvania cannot work without a work permit. Employers are also prohibited from scheduling minors to work more than five consecutive hours without getting a 30-minute break. 

Recruitment and Hiring

Pennsylvania employers cannot consider an applicant's arrest records, expunged records, juvenile adjudications, and summary offense convictions. However, they may consider an applicant's felony or misdemeanor convictions if they influence their suitability for that specific role. 

If an employer decides not to hire an applicant based on their criminal history record, Pennsylvania employment law requires them to notify the applicant about it in writing. 

Pennsylvania Employment Laws on Pay and Benefits

Disputes relating to pay and benefits are quite common in Pennsylvania and other states across the United States. If you live and work in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand the state's different pay and benefits laws to fight for your rights when the need arises. 

Wage Payment Laws

In Pennsylvania, employers are required to pay their employees by check or in cash. However, employers can pay their employees via electronic pay cards or direct deposits under certain circumstances. 

How Often Should Pennsylvania Employees Be Paid?

Employment laws in the state require employers to pay their employees at least twice a month. The payment should be delivered on or before the 15th and the last day of the month. 

If the employee is eligible for overtime pay, the overtime wages should be paid in the next succeeding pay period.

Can Pennsylvania Employers Hide Your Pay Stubs?

The law requires PA employers to provide their employees access to a written record of various pay-related information. Examples include:

  • hours worked;
  • the dates of the pay period (beginning and ending);
  • deductions if any;
  • allowances;
  • gross wages
  • rates paid;
  • net wages.

Can an Employer in Pennsylvania Deduct My Wages?

Yes, a Pennsylvania employer can deduct your wages, but only if the deduction is permitted by:

  • a court order;
  • state law;
  • federal law.

However, this should also be accompanied by the employee's written permission. 

It is also possible for an employer to deduct an employee's wages without the employee's written authorization. For example, the employer can dedicate wages for permissible reasons such as welfare or pension plan contributions, child support, union dues, tax levies, creditor wage garnishments, among others.

Pennsylvania Time Off and Leave of Absence Laws Explained

The state requires employers to provide their employees with time off and leave of absence. These laws vary depending on the reason for the leave or time-off request. 

They include:

  • crime victim leave;
  • jury duty leave - all employers are required to provide jury duty leave to their employees except service industry or retail employers with fewer than 15 employees or employers in the manufacturing industry with fewer than 40 employees);
  • military leave;
  • organ or tissue donation leave.

Can an Employer Withhold My Final Wages After Termination?

Pennsylvania law prohibits employers from withholding the final wages, whether the termination is involuntary or voluntary. Instead, employers are required to pay the final wages by the next regular payday. 

Can an Employer Withhold My Vacation Pay After Termination?

This mostly depends on company policies. Generally, PA law does not require employers to provide employees with vacation benefits, whether paid or unpaid.

When You Need an Employment Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Although Pennsylvania has strict employment laws, many employers still violate them. Here are some examples of situations that might require the attention of a Pennsylvania employment lawyer. 

If You've Been Discriminated Against

A workplace discrimination attorney can help fight for your rights if you've been discriminated against at your workplace. Whether it's a case of religious, age, gender, sex, racial, disability discrimination, or anything in between, you need a qualified workplace discrimination lawyer to fight for your rights.

Remember, as stated earlier, employers are prohibited from engaging in retaliatory behavior, and if that's what you're going through, then it's time to speak to an attorney.

In Pennsylvania, victims of discrimination may be entitled to:

  • wage recovery;
  • financial damages;
  • job reinstatement;
  • job promotion. 

Additionally, your employer might be required to pay your lawyer fees and provide injunctive relief (when the company is forced to change its policies to prevent future discrimination). 

Wage and Hour Violations

Wage and hour violations are pretty common across many industries in the state. For example, IT workers, service technicians, exotic dancers, installers, pizza delivery drivers, tipped employees, and call center workers are usually among the most affected by wage and hour violations. 

Unfortunately, many victims of this violation don't usually have the courage to confront their employers due to the fear of losing their jobs. But that shouldn't be the case; an employer cannot fire or threaten to fire you when you are fighting for your right to be paid what they owe.

The societal stigma associated with certain jobs, such as exotic dancing, also makes it more difficult for victims of wage and hour violations to seek justice. 

The same also applies to tipped employees. For example, aside from their hourly wages, a tipped employer is expected to pocket a certain percentage of tips received while on shift. 

Their employer is also expected to take care of certain expenses, such as the wear and tear delivery vehicles go through all the time. In 2018, Pizza Hut was forced to pay $2 million for failing to meet minimum wage and driver's expenses. 

If You Get Injured at Work

Suppose you've been injured while at work. In that case, you deserve compensation for your damages. Workplace-related injuries vary depending on the work environment, and each comes with some severe consequences. 

For example, if you work at a grocery store, you may slip and fall due to someone else's negligence. And, if you suffer serious injuries, a worker's compensation attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. 

Employment violations come in different forms. Sometimes, you may not even be aware that you're entitled to compensation until after consulting an experienced labor and employment attorney from a reputable law firm like Morgan & Morgan. 

How Morgan & Morgan Can Help

Morgan & Morgan is the law firm to contact when you need a lawyer who'll fight for your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve, whether in the form of job reinstatement, promotion, monetary, or anything in between. This is because we are the biggest injury law firm in the United States, with offices all over the country, including Pennsylvania. 

Given that we are the largest injury law firm in the state and nation, we boast unlimited legal resources to fight for our clients in or out of court. Your employer or insurance companies cannot intimidate us into accepting a settlement that does not meet our demands. Instead, our labor and employment lawyers in PA are always prepared to take the matter to court if the other party won't provide reasonable compensation.

And, that's not all - we have an army of over 800 lawyers ready to represent you in your workers' compensation claim. Having recovered over $10 billion in compensation over the past three decades, our law firm provides the best personal injury lawyers in the industry. They not only understand our client's needs but also treat them like family. 

Like other cases, employment law violation cases in Pennsylvania have deadlines. For example, you have up to 180 days from the date the discrimination occurred to file a claim. The sooner you contact a Morgan & Morgan labor and employment law attorney, the better your chances of winning the claim. 

In Pennsylvania, you'll find our offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, ready to listen to your case and provide the best way forward. You can also call us at 215-446-0003 or send us a message online for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. 

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